Wanted to continue for a few more weeks with the overview of the "Cattle" chapter in the book by Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human.
Dr. Grandin gives some great information on regrouping cattle which is often necessary whether you are dealing with dairy or with beef herds. She indicates that while re-grouping is not traumatic for cattle, it can be stressful, just as it would be for humans. She makes the point that any time cattle are re-grouped you will see some hostile behaviors in the form of pushing, butting and chasing. (We often see this when we regroup our cattle and say that the cattle are establishing "herd dominance".) The "newbie" always has the hardest time.
Dr. Grandin gives the following suggestions for raising and grouping cattle:
1. Calves should be raised with other calves and not in isolation. Isolation reared cattle are more agressive and less able to adjust to new social groupings. All animals have to be socialized from a young age and cows are no exception.
2. Groups of cattle should be no smaller than four. (Dr. Grandin goes on to explain that within reason, larger groups are more peaceful than smaller groups.)
3. Larger is better but groups can be too big. She suggests based on research that no more than 200 cattle should be grouped together.
4. If possible, young dairy heifers should be regrouped a few times to get them ready to join the herd.
5. If you can, keep cattle together with some of their buddies when you regroup them. Cows are calmest when they are with cows they know. pp. 160-161